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Competition: Create a Slogan for Bloggers Hit by the Page Rank Slam of October 07

Lets lighten the mood around here a little and have a little fun with this whole Page Rank Update – it’s time for a competition.

The winner gets a 3 month subscription to Brian’s new Teaching Sells program – worth $97. If you’ve already bought it then you get a refund.

The competition is simple – design a slogan for bloggers hit by the PageRank hit that Google dished out yesterday. Submissions will be received in the comments of this post for the next 24 hours.

  • Entries can be in any form you want – image, video or text (perhaps a little banner ad that bloggers can put on their blogs might work?). Get as creative as you like.
  • One entry per person.
  • Brian and I will select a winner tomorrow.

Here’s one I quickly whipped up – I’m sure a lot of you can do much better though!

Page-Rank-Competition

Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Update

The Sydney Morning Herald just published an article about the page rank shenanigans of the last 48 hours. You can read it at WWW spooked by Google algorithm tweak.

PS: it’s an old picture and not my computer – I didn’t trade in my MacBook Pro :-)

Update: I’ve closed comments on this as the 24 hour deadline is up. Thanks for everyone for entering! Now Brian and I need to sort through them all to find a winner – give us a day or two, there’s a lot here!

“This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me!” says Brian Clark on Page Rank Decreases

An Interview with Brian Clark

Yesterday when I posted that the new Teaching Sells resource has just launched I mentioned that I would have an interview with one of it’s founders Brian Clark from Copyblogger. Brian has understandably had a pretty hectic few days – but was generous enough to give us some time to explore a little more of what Teaching Sells is about.

Brian-Clark

Where does blogging fit into your own personal overall online business strategy?

Well, it would be silly to say that blogging isn’t an important part of everything I’ve been doing. I’ve spent over 18 months blogging at Copyblogger, trying to get better and better every week and attract more subscribers. I guess the key word in my blogging strategy is “attract,” though. Once you have a relationship with readers, that opens up whole new opportunities to have a direct financial relationship with them, rather than selling them to advertisers.

But it’s also crucial to remember that there are ways to make money without blogging and with very little free content. And that’s all tied to having something to sell.

Why did you start the course?

This project came together like most do for me. I rarely do anything on my own—I’ll either partner up with someone for marketing purposes, or I’ll partner with someone to do a project, or I’ll put together a team, like a producer does.

In this case, Tony Clark and I came to realize that we both had wildly succeeded with educational marketing and training approaches to paid content. It just took off from there.

What do you say to people who say ‘can’t people get this all for free elsewhere?’

I’d say first that it’s a rare breed of person who will actually do that. People who are online-savvy are not like the vast majority of people, but they make the mistake that others are like them. These people often never make any money, because they fail to realize that they have skills that “normal” people don’t.

What we teach, however, goes beyond that. When you position your paid content in a unique way, no one can really say they can get it free elsewhere. A unique perspective is not freely available, and it’s often a unique perspective that truly gets through to people.

So is it fair to say that those who have been blogging haven’t been wasting time, but rather creating a launching pad for bigger and better things?

Absolutely. Listen – I’ve been told by more than one Internet marketing “guru” that I’m wasting my time with an audience of bloggers. That they’ll never buy anything.

That’s crazy. Bloggers have done something that most people who buy Internet marketing “dream” materials have never done—they’ve taken action. They’ve actually done something, and that’s huge.

A blog to me is like an aircraft carrier… it’s the platform that you launch everything else off of. It’s the spoke in the wheel, and there are $100-million-dollar-a-year email publishing business models that follow the same strategy.

Just be smart about your free content, and have something to sell. That’s what’s worked for me for the last 10 years.

How practical do you get in Teaching Sells? Is it just theory or do you show people how to do it?

That’s the great thing about the interactive training format we use and teach. It’s to get beyond theory and to have people actually building sites. We do spend time telling people “why” they’re doing things, because that’s important. But the focus is on the how, and an approach that gets people excited about taking action.

How did you feel about the whole Google PageRank Fiasco?

Call me crazy, but I woke up, saw all the frenzy, and thought “This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” I’ve been warning people about relying on Google, and here comes proof-I follow all the rules, and still I get dinged.

The fact that this happened on the day I was launching a training program that shows people how to get away from relying on Google? That was a gift.

Thanks to Brian for answering my questions. I should add that I’m really enjoying participating in Teaching Sells. There are already some cool things happening among those that have joined. There is a forum area where people are encouraged to team up and work together on projects – I have a feeling that we’re going to see some great collaborations emerge out of that as people apply the principles being taught.

Going Beyond the Blog – How to Extend Your Blog

This post was written by Aditya Mahesh of BlogOnExpo, a free digital conference for bloggers that will feature sessions about blogging and interviews with Darren Rowse from ProBlogger, RandFishkin of SEOmoz, and others. The conference kicks off on December 1st, 2007.

You have a successful blog. You post on a frequent basis, have a strong reader base, get a decent amount of comments, and earn some revenue from the blog you run? So what do you do now? Many bloggers simply continue to post and reply to comments. Hoping that their blog continues to grow and eventually earn more revenue.

There is nothing wrong with is, but the question I most often have for successful blogs (and by successful I don’t mean 1 million page views a month and 200,000 RSS subscribers with $50,000 in ad revenue, I mean a consistent steady reader base (5000+ monthly) and some ad revenue), is why they don’t go beyond just a simple blog?

Blogs aren’t the only way to make money online and there are tons of features bloggers can add to their website to improve the user experience and generate more revenue. Here are a few of the best features you can add to your blog.

1. Forums

ForumBlogs are all about discussion and what better way to generate discussion than by launching a forum (eg Darren’s Digital Photography Schools Forum). Forums keep users on your site longer and get them involved in your blog’s community. There are a number of free forum programs available like PHPBB; however, your best bet for a highly scalable, reliable, and feature-rich forum would be VBulletin, the software that runs thousands of the most popular forums on the Internet. Single licenses start at $160.

2. Job Boards

Job-BoardJob Boards are a great way to provide quality content to your users and increase revenue. Like the job board here at ProBlogger.net, companies will pay a certain amount to have their opening listed on your blog’s job board and your visitors looking for a job will have a place to find a job in an industry they are interested in. Job boards work especially well in blogs that attract students and freelancers. You can code your own job board, or use services like JobCoin.com, or SimplyHired’s Job-a-Matic.

3. PodCasts / VideoCasts

VideoMany bloggers run their own daily/weekly/monthly online radio or video shows and there is no reason why you shouldn’t either. While podcasts work well, I prefer to create videocasts like the one Darren has on the homepage. All you need is a webcam. Just sit in front of your computer and record a video post about anything that relates to your blog’s content. Videocasting has a number of advantages. It puts a face to the blog and is a great change from just a plain text post. Video ads from sponsors can monetize these video posts and submitting videos to YouTube and other video sharing websites can be a great way to reach new readers. Also, you can encourage readers to respond with “video comments” of their own, though this would require a video sharing script. vShare.in has a decent script for just $10.

4. Social Networks

Social-NetworkThis can get expensive and thus should not be attempted until you have a decent number of monthly readers (20,000+). To further engage your readers, you can create a social networking website like MySpace or Facebook specifically for your readers. Why would you want to do this? Well, it’s a great way for people with similar interests to meet or connect. A social network would be ideal for any type of blog that relates to business/entrepreneurship as communication is a major part of professional success and a blog’s social network will be a great place for people to connect with others in the same industry. Creating a social network from scratch can be very time consuming if you are familiar with programming/designing and can cost tens of thousands of dollars to get a custom script made. As a result, most blogger will have to go with a common script, but even these can be quite expensive. Your best bets would be PHPFox.com ($300) or SocialEngine.net ($250-$419) – (eg – check out Mashable’s Social Network for a great example of this type of thing extending a great blog).

Do You Have other ideas on how to extend your blog? Let us know with a comment.

Are 125 x 125 pixel Ads Right for Your Blog?

125-Pixel-AdsOver the past 6 to 12 months the 125 x 125 pixel advertisement has emerged onto the blogging scene as a fairly common means of advertising.

I don’t know who did it first – but there are hundreds (if not thousands) of blogs using it. Some of the more prominent ones include TechCrunch, Read/WriteWeb, CopyBlogger and John Chow – but there are many hundreds others. In fact over at b5media we have them on all of our 250+ blogs.

Why 125 Pixel Ads Are Worth Considering

125 x 125 ads are an attractive option for bloggers and advertisers on numerous fronts:

  • Bloggers tend to like them because they fit well into sidebars (either in a single vertical line or side by side)
  • They give the option to sell multiple ad units in the space often reserved for one larger ad (four 125 x 125 ads fit nicely into either the position of a skyscraper or large rectangle ad). Generally selling 4 smaller smaller ads will bring in more than selling one larger one
  • Many medium to smaller level advertisers like them because they are cheaper than a larger ad and they can have their ad appear on multiple blogs for the same price as a larger one on one blog.
  • Increasingly affiliate programs are offering publishers 125 pixel ads – these can be run in unsold ad spots so that they can be monetized even when the full stock of ads are not sold.

Should you run 125 x 125 ads on your blog? Balancing the Arguement

There are some good reasons to experiment with 125 pixel ads – however it’s not all plain sailing.

There are a number of things to consider before moving to this format:

  • They work better in some industries than others – in my limited experience of selling advertising I’ve found that each industry has it’s own preference when it comes to ad unit size. I was chatting to an advertising agency last week about them buying a banner ad on one of my blogs and when I suggested 125 pixel ads there was silence on the other end of the phone. The rep had never sold a 125 pixel ad – his industry dealt almost exclusively in large banners, skyscrapers and rectangle ads. 125 pixel ads tend to be something that tech, web 2.0 type advertisers prefer – perhaps it’s expanding to other industries – but many still operate in more traditional sizes.
  • Mainstream advertisers are still catching up – similarly, I’ve found that even in the tech web 2.0 space, many larger advertisers prefer more traditional ad sizes and some are not set up to sell anything else.
  • It takes more work to sell four ads than one – While selling four smaller ads can bring in more revenue than selling one larger one – there are more costs involved in selling four – particularly when you consider your own time in making the sale and administering the ad. This is of course if you can sell any ads at all. Selling one ad and having three empty spots can be quite disheartening.

How to Use 125 pixel Ads on Your Blog

A few pieces of advice for selling 125 pixel ads:

Have some filler ads in reserve – if you set aside four ad 125 ad units in your design then be prepared to have some unsold inventory for periods of time. There are a number of options here:

  • you could run an affiliate program (if you can find one that fits with your niche)
  • you could run an AdSense ad here (they offer 125 sized ads (although a text ad might look odd next to other image based ads)
  • you could run a Chitika ad unit (again they might look odd)
  • another option is to run an internal ad (an ad that points to different parts of your blog/site)
  • you could run an ad swap here – arrange for another blogger in your niche to run their ad there in return for you running one on their blog (to swap traffic)

Prepare an ‘advertise here’ ad - another option for a filler ad is to prepare an ad that advertisers the opportunity to advertise in that position on your blog. Point this ad to an ‘Advertise page’ on your blog which has information on the benefits of advertising on your blog. It can also be worth to have another link or small ad near these ads that points to the same page for when all ads are sold out.

Look at who is advertising elsewhere in your niche - if you’re struggling to find advertisers for your blog a good idea is to keep track of who is advertising on other blogs and websites in your niche – particularly those advertising using 125 pixel ads. If they are willing to advertise on your competitors blogs then they are likely to consider yours too.

Positioning is Everything – on my old template here at ProBlogger I was forced to have my 125 pixel ads below the fold. I did this reluctantly because there was no other room for them and was keen to get them up in a more prominent position with the redesign (in fact it was one of the main reasons I did the redesign). Having them below the fold gave a poor conversion for advertisers which resulted in being able to charge less and struggling to get advertisers to renew their ads. Moving them up the page helped significantly.

Consider your Competing Ads and Affiliate Programs – one thing to carefully consider is how many other ads and affiliate programs to include on your blog. This is worth considering on three fronts:

  1. Too many ad units on your blog can be detrimental on two fronts. Firstly it can crowd out the content and disillusion regular readers while putting off new visitors to your blog. Some blogs have so many ads that their content is pushed way down the page and effectively hidden.
  2. Too many ads on a page dilutes the conversion that advertisers get. If an ad is one of four they have a much higher chance of being noticed and clicked on than if the ad is one of ten.
  3. Some blogger miss out on being able to sell ads by running affiliate programs or AdSense on their blogs. The problem with running an affiliate program on a blog is that the program you are promoting via that program might decide that they don’t need to advertise on your blog. This might be a good thing if the affiliate program pays out more than the advertising would have – but it could also be costly. Running AdSense on a blog where you’re trying to sell ads directly can also hurt you because in some cases it’ll be much cheaper for the advertiser to advertise on your blog using AdSense. Remember AdSense takes a cut of what the advertiser pays – so you could potentially be losing out quite a bit. This all needs to be monitored and you need to do some analysis of which monetization technique is best for you.

Feature Advertisers - one way to add some value to those advertising on your blog using 125 pixel ad units (or any type of advertising) is to give them a little extra attention by periodically featuring advertisers on your blog in a post. Disclose what you’re doing so that readers know that you’re highlighting paying advertisers – but do it both to give your advertisers extra value (increasing the chances of them renewing their ad next month) and as a means of attracting new advertisers.

Have Your Say on 125 Pixel Ads

What do you think about 125 pixel ads? Do you run them on your blog? Why or Why not?

Free Report Reveals Smart Way to Make Money Online

Teaching Sells Free ReportWhen Brian Clark from CopyBlogger releases a free report – you know it’s going to be something you want to read. So when he emailed me a draft copy last week I put everything else aside and immediately devoured it.

The report is titled ‘Teaching Sells‘ and having chatted to many of you about your frustrations with making money online lately I just know that this is going to connect with a lot of you.

You can download it here (both as a PDF and MP3 audio file).

“Forget About Blogging for Bucks and Make Some Real Money”

Some of you will read that section heading in Brian’s report and wonder why a blog about making money online would be promoting something that seems to undermine the idea of making money from blogging.

I’ve long said that making money from blogging is possible on two fronts:

  1. Making money directly from your blog (usually through advertising or affiliate programs)
  2. Making money indirectly because of your blog.

Most bloggers take option one, thinking that they’ll become rich from earnings directly from the blog – but I’ve long held the belief that it’s actually option two that has the biggest potential – ie using the blog as an attention grabber and a point of leverage that can open up bigger things for a blogger.

This report will help those wanting to explore the second option through selling content – and more specifically through selling ‘teaching’ content.

I could write a lot more about the report – but really it’s something I’d encourage you to download and read for yourself. Then perhaps I’ll write a follow up post where we can discuss it more fully once you’ve had a read.

PS: Brian’s told me a bit about where all of this is heading, and he’ll be offering training for people who want to get on the fast track to acting on the content of the report. There’s more free articles coming as well as some paid training later on.

Whether you go for the paid options or not I think this initial report is a great read and give you lots of food for thought.

Click here to get your free copy of Teaching Sells

Sourcebench – a ProBlogger Community Blog Consulting Project

It’s time for the first ProBlogger Community Blog Consulting Session. I’ve explained what this is in my last post and would ask you to read it before you leave a comment below.

Problogger-Consulting-Sourcebench

The blog that we’re going to look at this week is Sourcebench. Thorsten is the blogger behind this blog and his email asking for help said this:

My latest addition to the blogosphere is http://www.sourcebench.com. I invested a lot of time and money in this blog – into its content and the design but somehow i cannot get it reach that I want. I am stuck with around 300 visitors per day. Could you give me a clue what i am doing wrong or how I could improve?

As I’ve written in my previous post – I now want to invite you, the ProBlogger community, to offer your advice, suggestions and constructive critique into the mix. I’ll then attempt to summarize our collective advice early next week.

Sourcebench-Screencap

To help you in your feedback – here are a few questions you might want to answer and some areas you might want to focus upon:

  • What do you like about this blog?
  • What could it do better?

Particularly – you might want to comment in these areas:

  • Design – navigation, usability etc
  • Content – including ideas for posts that might be worth writing that could go viral
  • Promotion – what tips would you give this blogger for getting the word out there about this specific blog?
  • SEO – could it be improved
  • Monetization – what techniques might work better?

Try to keep your suggestions as constructive, practical and as specific to this blog as possible.

Looking forward to seeing your advice.

Your first 10,000 Blog Posts are Always the Worst

Practice“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson – Photographer

I came across this great quote today and as a photography nut it rang true.

However I quickly realized that the quote could easily be applied to the medium of blogging.

“Your first 10,000 blog posts are your worst”

Like anything – blogging is something that the majority of us are not brilliant at in our early days. I look back at some of the posts I wrote in my first year of blogging and shudder with embarrassment. The mistakes were spectacular and frequent.

However with each mistake and failure comes a lesson, with every post comes comes a new skill and with each experiment comes a discovery of a technique that works (or doesn’t work).

If you’re a new blogger – don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t ‘click’ for you straight away.

Practice, Practice and Practice some more.

The Blog Tool that Has Saved Me Months of Work

The biggest single time saver in my blogging is a plugin that many of us take for granted – but which has literally saved me days and days of time.

What it’s done for me can be summed up in this little screen capture taken from the back end of ProBlogger:

Picture 2-10

Yes – last night the amount of spam comments that Akismet has filtered here at ProBlogger passed the ‘magical’ 2 million mark.

That’s a frightening statistic on numerous levels.

For starters it shows just how big the problem of comment spam is (I think I started using this about 18 months ago).

Also frightening is the thought of life without Akismet.

Lets do a little arithmetic and see what using it has done for my life:

Let’s assume that if I had to moderate spam comments manually here at ProBlogger that it would take around 2 seconds to do each one (I think it could be more than that as it can take a while to track them all down – I know this because when Akismet’s server has gone down for an hour or so it takes forever).

  • 2,000,000 comment spams X 2 seconds = 4,000,000 seconds needed for moderating comments.
  • 4,000,000 seconds = 66666.666667 minutes
  • 66666.666667 minutes = 1111.111111 hours
  • 1111.111111 hours = 46.2962 days

Akismet has saved me 46.29 days in the last 18 months. That’s 1.5 months (working non stop 24 hours a day).

Considering that I don’t work 24 hours a day – if I worked 8 hour days it would have taken me 138.88 days (4.6 months) to moderate all those comments manually – more if I took time off for weekends and holidays.

Do you think that I’m happy that I installed Akismet? You bet your life I am!

Update – as has been suggested in comments below – I would strongly encourage you to sign up as a commercial or ‘pro blogging’ users of Akismet if you’re making money from your blog. As part of b5media – ProBlogger uses a license that we pay for. This enables Akismet to keep improving.

How Old Are You? POLL

Time for this week’s poll. This week I’m asking a pretty basic demographic question:

How Old Are You?

I’m asking this because I’ve heard a number of people recently speak about blogging as a young person’s thing – however in talking to many ProBlogger readers I’ve found that the age range is quite broad.

How spread are the ages of ProBlogger readers? We’ll soon find out.

If you’re reading this in RSS you’ll need to come on over and vote here.

How Old are You?
View Results



Looking forward to seeing the results on this one!